Will new gen grocery stores cut waste down to zero?
In response to customer concerns, the grocery industry has been trying to find creative ways to limit what gets thrown out and winds up in landfills. Big name natural grocers such as Whole Foods as well as conventional supermarket operators such as Kroger have been exploring new ways to reduce waste, while startups have been jumping in to reuse or redistribute otherwise unsellable food products.
Government is concerned too. On the legal side, some municipalities have begun restricting the use of plastic bags to reduce the number that end up discarded in parking lots and sidewalks. But the packaging food comes in poses its own challenges for grocers that want to go green. One new grocery store launching in Brooklyn aims at getting its waste down to absolute zero.
The store, prospectively called The Fillery, harkens back to a time when there wasn’t so much garbage generated because there wasn’t as much packaging. According to The Huffington Post, Sarah Metz intends to launch the store later this year, allowing customers to bring their own glass jars and cloth bags for dry goods, as well as offering milk in refillable glass containers and other products in refillable screw-topped containers. A similar outfit, Zero Waste Market, is slated to open this fall in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The model resembles what one can sometimes find at food co-ops. But with the greening trend continuing, such an approach to reusability could have a broader impact. Whole Foods, for instance, states on their website that the chain hopes to become a Zero Waste store in 2016, defined as diverting 90 percent of their waste away from landfills or incineration. Earlier this year the chain evoked viral ire over selling pre-packaged oranges due to the perceived wastefulness.
Kroger just announced plans to keep 90 percent of the waste from its stores out of landfills by 2020. The company also pledged to reduce the amount of plastic used in its private label brand packaging while increasing its use of recycled material.
Changing the packaging, rather than doing away with it entirely, is another way consumer-facing industries have been meeting customers’ growing sensitivity to environmental issues. A report by Greener Package indicates that the green packaging market is expecting a 6.2 percent compound annual growth rate increase from 2015 to 2021.
- A Whole New Kind of Grocery Store is Coming to the U.S. – Huffington Post
- Whole Foods plans to buy funny looking fruits and veggies – RetailWire
- What Happens to Our Waste? – Whole Foods
- Whole Foods responds to $6 pre-peeled orange Twitterstorm – CBS News
- Kroger vows better sourcing, less waste – Cincinnati Enquirer
- Green packaging market set to grow through 2020 – Greener Package
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will a waste-free grocery model with minimal to no disposable packaging catch on beyond the boutique grocery space? What should mainstream grocers watch for in the efforts of such stores such as The Fillery and Zero Waste Market?